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Self guided walking with Tess of the D’Urbervilles

No of Nights: 2

Stay: Hotel / Guest House

Grade: Easy-Moderate


A wonderful relaxed walking break in Wessex, exploring landscapes that inspired Thomas Hardy and which he described as "partly real, partly dream country". This stunningly beautiful countryside has hardly changed since Hardy's day: walk the same paths and admire the same views. Stay at the highly-acclaimed 350-year-old Yalbury Cottage in the hamlet of Lower Bockhampton in the heart of Hardy's Wessex. Alternatively, excellent B&B accommodation is available nearby in the heart of Dorchester.


  • staying in the village where Thomas Hardy was born close to his birthplace, school and the church where his heart is buried
  • walking in his footsteps through beautiful countryside associated with Tess of the D'Urbervilles
  • two contrasting walks, personally researched by the company's founders, experts in the works of Thomas Hardy
  • an optional self-guided tour of Hardy's 'Casterbridge' (Dorchester)
  • visiting three picturesque villages and Hardy's Cottage (National Trust)
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Tour review scores and score breakdown

10 / 10

Based on 2 reviews

Guest reviews are written by our customers after their tour of Thomas Hardy footsteps Dorset.

Guest reviews

  • Another lovely week end with Country Walks. What a wonderful hotel Yarlbury Cottage is. Delicious food and such hospitality and warm welcome. The walks were amazingly beautiful and we were so lucky with the weather. I thoroughly enjoyed walking from the Giant to Cerne Abbas and having a chance to look round such a beautiful and interesting town. The whole trip went without a hitch and the lunch stops provided also efficient and delicious food. Thank you for discovering this week end which I know has now been running for some time but has stood the test of time.
    - Elizabeth Stokes, Putney, London, SW15

  • What stunning FOOD!!!!!! I can't get that stupendous pannacotta with thin rich chocolate saucy stuff and chocolate ice cream out of my mind. AND I prefer savories or is it savouries. And the gurnard. Well, I really enjoyed my weekend. I loved my room overlooking a ploughed field with pheasants pecking about a few feet from my window, and the sunrise behind the tree silhouhetted against the pink horizon. Magic! Oh and the weather and walking and poems and Hardy's house AND the blackberries were all great.
    Annie Walter, Hammersmith, London W6


Day One

Settle into your accommodation, have a look through your walks pack and dine either in Yalbury Cottage’s highly acclaimed restaurant or at one of our recommended restaurants in nearby Dorchester.

Day Two

From the historic village of Cerne Abbas, cross remote rural landscapes that inspired Hardy’s great works. This is where lonely hills meet distant horizons; this is Hardy’s ‘partly real, partly dream country’, unchanged, unspoilt, a landscape which inspired so much of his writing and where today we can still find peace ‘Far from the Madding Crowd'. Lunch is at Sydling St Nicholas, where flintstone cottages and lively streams line the street.

Refreshed, a gradual hill ascent to the Wessex Ridgeway, still following in the footsteps of Hardy, you'll  approach Cerne Abbas to confront the striking figure of the famous giant in all his naked glory. Enjoy a village tour followed by tea before returning to your accommodation. (Grade moderate: 9 miles/14.4 km)

Day Three

From the very heart of Hardy’s Wessex to ‘the vast tract of unenclosed wild known as Egdon Heath’ and Hardy’s birthplace cottage, ‘between a heath and a wood’. Follow in his footsteps to reach ‘Mellstock Church’ at Stinsford where Hardy’s heart rests.

Continue to Hardy’s school and his favourite ’embowered path beside the Frome’, still, today, as pretty as a picture. This is Hardy’s ‘Vale of the Great Dairies’ and remains so today. Cross ‘The Roman Road that runs straight and bare . . . Across the heath’ to glorious woodlands, enjoying the same stunning views as Hardy, the same peace, the same glorious landscapes that were the inspiration for his great works.  (Grade moderate: 7 miles/11.2 km)

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Stay at 350-year-old Yalbury Cottage in the heart of Thomas Hardy's Wessex, just a short distance from his birthplace. It’s full of character with its thatched roof, fireplaces and beamed ceilings. The outstanding award-winning restaurant serves French cuisine made of fresh, local produce for which it enjoys a well-deserved reputation.

Alternatively, if you would prefer to stay in the heart of nearby Dorchester, only two miles away, we can highly recommend award-winning Westwood House, an elegant townhouse just a few minutes walk from the station.

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Grade of the walks

The routes are suitable for anyone of average fitness, able to walk around 7-9 miles each day on easy terrain for up to 5 hours with a break for lunch.

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Tour price and costs

from £251 per person for 2 people sharing, depending on choice of accommodation. Please enquire for single occupancy rates or for car-free rates.

Price includes:

  •   En-suite accommodation and full English breakfasts
  •   Two self guided walks
  •   A self guided tour of historic Dorchester
  •   Commentaries on features of interest, particularly in relation to the works of Thomas Hardy
  •   Travel directions
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By rail:  trains twice an hour from London Waterloo to Dorchester South (2.75 hours); Yalbury Cottage is just 3 miles and a short taxi ride from the station.

By road: total mileage from central London: 130 miles (3 hours). Parking at Yalbury Cottage or at a public car park close to Westwood House.

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